Egyptian court sentences Mubarak to life in prison

The New York Times reports: An Egyptian judge on Saturday sentenced former President Hosni Mubarak to life in prison for the killing of unarmed demonstrators during the first six days of protests that ended his rule.

It was the first verdict against an Arab ruler brought before the law by a popular revolt, and for many Egyptians it may be the greatest achievement so far of the uprising that began 16 months ago. With the nation still awaiting the ratification of a new constitution, the election of a new president and the hand-over of power by its military rulers, the decision is Egypt’s most significant step yet toward establishing the principle that no leader is above the law.

Yet lawyers critical of Mr. Mubarak immediately warned that the verdict may not survive an appeal. The judge acquitted several lower-ranking security officials of responsibility for the same deaths, raising questions about the chain of command. He also dismissed corruption charges against Mr. Mubarak and his sons on technical grounds, and by early afternoon protesters angry at the flimsiness of the decision were pouring into Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the revolt.

Egyptian state television reported that within hours of the decision, Mr. Mubarak, 84, had suffered a “health crisis” as he was being flown by helicopter to a Cairo prison from the military hospital where he had awaited the verdict. He was being treated inside the helicopter which he refused to leave, the state network reported.

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